When Youth was on my Side
By Khalil Amani
Hip-hop heads put a premium of youth. I’ve been called “old ass” so much that I think I’m starting to feel old (some of you wish!). What’s even funnier is that some (gay) rappers are calling each other old. The fuck? Take Deadlee, a gay rapper who’s been on the scene for a minute. How old is Deadlee? Older than some gay rappers, but younger than Jay-Z, Bun B, LL Cool J, Dr. Dre and many other very relevant mainstream rappers. Jay-Z is 40 years old and in his prime, still making #1 records and married to the hottest chick in the game—Beyonce. The saying is, “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game!”
The new breed of gay rappers ain’t done nowhere near what Deadlee has done, but feel like they can shit on his legacy—a legacy, which includes three CDs of original music, putting together a 10-city tour of gay rappers, appearing on the Howard Stern Show, the Tyra Banks Show, CNN, the LA Times, covering numerous gay magazines, and being featured at Allhiphop.com, the biggest hip-hop site on the Internet—not to mention bringing in one of hip-hop’s most prolific straight bloggers into the gay hip-hop movement—me!
(Gay rapper Deadlee... the man who introduced me to the gay hip-hop genre)
A stellar track record, unparalleled by any gay rapper who’s come on the scene in the last five years!
Instead of dealing with Deadlee’s accomplishments, they dive headlong into the cesspool of hateration and diss, of all things—his age and his lyrical prowess. Negroes please! Lol! They diss his lyrics, as if they are Jay-Z or Nas-esque, rapping shit like “Back it on up like a U-Haul truck.” This, they call lyricism! How clever! NOT!
So! Who says that any rapper is too old to be rapping? And speaking of asking if someone is still relevant, LL Cool J asked, "If you ask if someone is relevant. Doesn't that mean they are relevant enough for you to ask?" The very fact that you question Deadlee’s (or my) “relevance” is an indictment that, indeed, we are relevant! Lol! That’s called logic.
(Gay rapper Deadlee & Khalil Amani, Deadlee's Spiritual Advisor)
Some of y’all wonder how a 50 year old dude can still be relevant in hip-hop. Some of y’all think that after a certain age, one must relinquish his or her hip-hop card and wander off into the Land of the Forgotten. And some of y’all boast and brag on your youth like it’s a forever-kind-of-thing—like you have a lifetime to become the first gay rapper to cross into the mainstream (or accomplish whatever musical goals you have).
Well I’ve got news for you! The clock is ticking!
Let me explain what being 50 years feels like. Great! Really! I’m ecstatic to know that I’ll be half-a-century old in two months. Dissing my age is no diss to me! (If you want to hurt my feelings talk about my fat gut or balding head.) Look at it this way. If you’re twenty-something today, would you like to be sixteen again? For most 25 year olds, the answer is a resounding “Hell no!” Now at 50, if you asked me would I like to be 30 again I’d say yes, but not younger. Why? Because there are certain things you learn that make you refuse to be younger again.
Remember your first heart-break? Nobody wants to experience that shitty feeling of not wanting to eat, sleep, party or fuck other chicks (or dudes) because your heart is with one supposedly “special” person. Nobody in your circle of friends and family prepared you for that first heartbreaking. And no sane person wants to revisit that shit!
Youth is a beautiful thing! I thoroughly enjoyed being young. And when I was young—I looked young, unlike some of you who are 25 going on 50 in the looks department. Lol! There are several gay rappers (like Pat) who look as old as me, but always disses my age. I feel sorry for them because they will look hella older than I do when they are my age!
I thought I was the shit growing up! In fact, I knew I was the shit growing up. I was popular in high school—a member of the marching band and the orchestra. I was a good student and a great friend. What I lacked in physicality was made up in personality.
(Khalil Amani age 17)
I was a skinny teenager who was not shy when it came to rappin’. Yes! We used the word “rappin’” in the 70’s, but it had nothing to do with music. Rapping was a way we talked to girls. Some called it mackin’—spitting game.
(Khalil Amani kneeling right circa 1977)
Back in my day (as my dad would say), we didn’t believe in saggin’ and looking raggedy! We went to school in three-piece suits, platform shoes rockin’ the afros. That was our swag. That’s how we stunted. The 70’s was a time of great fashion, style & class. You might laugh at how we dressed, but if you went back in time with saggy baggy jeans and oversized T-shirts, we’d rank (tell jokes about) you until you wanted to fight! Lol!
Those were the days! Growing up in Miami, there were no “official” gangs. You could walk through Carol City, Opa-Locka, Brownsville, Liberty City, Overtown or any other part of Miami with any color you liked. As long as you didn’t talk shit, you got a pass.
We didn’t have HIV/AIDS back then. “The Clap” (gonorrhea) and syphilis were our foes along with knocking up the neighborhood skeezer. We were young and carefree.
Young is as young does. I may be chronologically older than the average hip-hop head, but mentally, how I see myself in the world—I’m younger than the average head and when I say “young”—I’m speaking of thinking outside the box—not being afraid to see things from other perspectives.
Relish in your youth! But even more, relish in your good health. I’ve lived a full life and done many of the things I’ve wanted to do. I was a beautiful young man who’s aged gracefully into a wise old man. I am what you should hope to be—a man, father, grandfather and hip-hop head.